You Are Special by Max Lucado is a rare book that accomplishes two very difficult things for a children’s book:
- It teaches something important and profound about God.
- It’s entertaining for children and adults alike.
The ‘Wemmicks’ are a fictional race of anthropomorphic wooden puppets who spend all their time giving stickers to each other. Golden stars are given if they like how another Wemmick looks or if they complete impressive feats. Grey dots are given if they do not like how another Wemmick looks or if they are clumsy or, in the case of Punchinello, the main character, for no reason at all other than that he already has a lot of grey dots…,so he must deserve more!
Punchinello is understandably miserable within this way of life and has started to believe that he deserves to be treated in this way. He goes on a journey of self-discovery to discover that what others think of him does not matter after all.
So far from what I have revealed, this could be a secular book, and indeed the book is delightfully written and illustrated (by Sergio Martinez) in a way that it would not look out of place in a regular bookstore.
But the beauty of this book lies in the solution that is offered to Punchinello. Punchinello does not go out and get alterations or modifications that make him more pleasing to the eye. He does not go out and perform an impressive feat that changes people’s opinion of him. He does not look inside himself to find the strength to love himself.
What ultimately helps Punchinello to care less about what others think of him is *spoiler alert* to spend time every day with his maker, Eli the wood carver. Eli reminds him that Punchinello matters and is special because Eli made him and his is the only opinion that truly matters.
In only a few hundred words and a few dozen pages, You Are Special has a profound message about people pleasing, how unhelpfully we can view ourselves (and others!) and the solution that can only be found in God.
Even though it is an important message for children, as a grown-up who has struggled with people pleasing all my life, every time I read it with my nephews and goddaughters, the truth of this message—and the importance of daily drawing near my Creator and Father—preaches to me each time.
This book has universal truth that is important for all believers (adults and children alike). I honestly cannot keep track of how many copies of this book I have bought to give away as presents to the precious children in my life.